When you think Boston Celtics, one of the first names that comes to mind is Paul Pierce.
After being selected with the 10th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Celtics, Pierce went on to play 15 years with the organization – racking up 24,021 points, 6,651 boards, 4,305 assists, 10 All-Star Game appearances, an NBA title and an NBA Finals MVP award.
After four years away from Boston, Pierce signed a one-day contract with the team July 17 and retired. With the announcement, the Celtics will retire “The Truth’s” No. 34 on Feb. 11, 2018.
Prime Time reflects back on his top five moments with the Green.
5. Birth of “The Truth”
The date was March 13, 2001. In his third year with the association, Pierce would explode for one of his most iconic games. The struggling Celtics played Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Boston clearly was overmatched against the defending champions, but Pierce played out of his mind, dropping a game-high 42 points in the Boston 112-107 loss. Pierce’s ability to score at will and the poise to do so against the leagues best team left such an impression on Shaq that he pulled Steve Bulpett aside.
“Take this down,” O’Neal told Bulpett, via NBAPA.com. “My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the (expletive) truth. Quote me on that and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”
4. 2010 3-point contest
Another favorite moment from the vault. Ppierce beat none other than Stephen Curry to bring home the crown.
3. 2008 Eastern Conference finals Game 7
This was one of the greatest one-on-one matchups in recent history. In a winner-take-all tilt, Pierce and Lebron James went shot for shot in this epic battle with both players totaling 41 and 45 points respectively.
2. The wheelchair game
The date was June 5, and it was Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals versus the arch-rival Los Angeles Lakers. Pierce collapsed to the parquet floor with 6:49 left in the third quarter after trying to defend a Kobe Bryant drive. He rolled around under the basket, clutching his right knee in agony for several moments before Boston’s medical staff surrounded him. Pierce was unable to put any weight on the leg, so Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine and team doctor Brian McKeon carried him off the court, placed him in a wheelchair and wheeled him to the locker room. Just a few minutes thereafter, Pierce limped his way out of the tunnel to a outstanding ovation from Celtics Nation. He returned to the floor less than two minutes after his scary fall took place – and immediately made an impact. The rest is history with banner 17 hanging from the rafters.
1. Banner 17
The Celtics took a 3-2 series lead and then proceeded to annihilate the Lakers, 131-92, in a title-clinching, Game 6 victory, which marked the franchise’s 17th NBA championship. Pierce tallied a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists on the night, and finished the series with an average of 21.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. After the final whistle blew, Pierce was handed the Finals MVP, solidifying his status as a Celtics ledgend.